What is Positive Thinking?
It’s often easy to think that the way we feel is a result of either good or bad things happen that happen to us. But actually, the way we react and think about what the things that happen to us is far more important than the events we experience. The things that happen in our lives are not good or bad in themselves; it’s just the way we think and react to them that makes has a positive or negative effect upon us. Positive Thinking isn’t the same as Positive Affirmations.
Thinking positively isn’t always easy, in fact, in modern times, with the amount of negative news and media in the world, maintaining a positive outlook on the things that we experience can be tricky. When things are not going the way you want them to or something very upsetting happens to you, it is very easy to start feeling down about what you are experiencing. However, positive thinking is a skill that can be learned, and mastered, as long as you practice it regularly. Positive thinking is something that everyone has the ability to do.
Changing your thinking style
Most people tend to exhibit either a positive or a negative perspective on things when explaining a course of events to themselves. This is called either an optimistic or a pessimistic thinking style. For instance imagine that:
- You did badly on an exam
- You asked someone out and they said no
- Your partner split up with you
- You applied for a job and didn’t succeed
- You didn’t get an invitation to a party
These are fairly normal everyday disappointments. They may seem like huge events to you at the time but there are thousands of people around the world who are experiencing just that sort of thing at any one time. There could be a number of different explanations for why these situations may have occurred but usually we won’t ever know the ‘real’ reason why this may have happened so instead we ‘make up’ an explanation that ‘seems’ sensible to us (at the time) and provides us with a sense of justification for what we have just been through.
Pessimists and Optimists differ in the way they explain such events to themselves.
Pessimists tend to assume that the reason for a negative event occurring is:
- General: due to general characteristics rather than specific causes
- Permanent: it won’t change and they have little influence over it
- Personal: their own fault, they take personal ownership of the event rather than attributing it external circumstances
Optimists tend to assume the reason is:
- Specific: they can or attempt to identify the reason for the event
- Temporary or changeable: the situation or event won’t have a lasting impact on them or their surrounds
- External: not necessarily their fault and can be attributed to factors not related to them
For example, if a pessimist was rejected for a date, they might explain it as due to their being “unattractive or physically undesirable”, a general characteristic that is permanent and personal! An optimist, however, would look at it rather differently. They might see the rejection as being due to the person being interested in someone else, a situation that is specific, possibly temporary, and not their fault. Although they were the subject of the rejection, it wasn’t necessarily personal and specifically directed at them as an individual. Louise Hay in her film You Can Heal Your Life and book fo the same name examines in-depth the impact a change of mind-state has on you level of happiness, health and life in general.
Self Analysis: Try to think of a disappointing situation you experienced from your own life recently. How would you explain this situation to yourself? Can you imagine any other possible explanation?
Thought stopping or interrupting a train of thought, is a technique for managing negative thought patterns. Negative thoughts are unhelpful thinking patterns that serve to reduce your Self Esteem and self confidence. They are often sweeping, pessimistic generalisations, such as:
- My relationships never work.
- Nobody cares about me.
- Nothing goes right for me.
- Here we go again.
- I should have expected that anyway.
If you think carefully about these statements, you’ll probably realise pretty quickly that they are not entirely accurate. In fact, they are broad generalisations that serve to reduce your self confidence. But these kinds of thoughts can make you feel pretty rotten and depressed, and make it difficult to take any steps towards solving your problems. With this outlook and type of thinking, you actually have two problems to solve. The initial situation that has happened, and, your reaction to that situation. With a Negative Thought Process it is entirely possible, more than likely actually, that your reaction to the situation is a great deal more damaging to you than the actually experience or results of the negative situation you had just been through.
Thought stopping means noticing when you are having an unhelpful, negative thought process and saying “stop!” to yourself then replacing your negative generalisations with a more positive thought about the situation. This will take a bit of practice but is very easy once you get the hang of it! Thought stopping can also be used to change other unhelpful thinking patterns, such as worrying and obsessing.
If we relate this to the Law of Attraction, it works to bring more negative thoughts into you mind which then become a habituated thinking process, and it may take some persistence to change the thinking pattern. Have you ever noticed how a little negative thinking all of sudden can grow into a mountain of negative thoughts about anything you may have experienced all day, or even all week. There is a psychological explanation for this, but, essentially, this is the Law of Attraction in Action on your mind and thought processes.
Being Optimistic is a Choice
Having a positive mindset is your daily key to living a life of happiness, hope, peace, fulfilment and total life enjoyment. Everyone given the opportunity is able to live an optimistic and ultimately fulfilling life that will deliver them happiness on a day to day basis.
Although it sounds simplistic, being positive is a choice! All of us can define our own lives, every moment of every day that we are alive in terms of whether we focus on the positive or not in any situation.
Positive thinking is infectious! Our moods affect our family, friends, colleagues and strangers, which in turn establishes the kind of relationships we share or encounter with each of them. People who are vibrant and positive project energy that attracts others to be around them, they radiate happiness and joy and in turn people want to get involved and assist those who make them feel good.
Having a positive attitude to life is making it your predominant state of being. By focusing on what we have to be grateful for and cherishing all we have in our lives puts us in a good starting point.
Now try some of the Self Development Lessons to help you consolidate what we have just gone over.